Elpidio V. Peria
6 March 2016


photo from naturalcapital.us

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a UN scientific deliberation body modeled after the 2007 Nobel prize winner Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently released its first global assessment on pollinators, pollination and food production, at its fourth meeting that took place in Kuala Lumpur on 22-28 February, as reported by the Third World Network.

The picture it is presenting on the state of pollinators and pollination worldwide is bleak, and its assessment shows that wild pollinators have declined in occurrence and diversity (and abundance for certain species) at local and regional scales, in North West Europe and North America.

While this may be read at a glance as something that may only be a problem in that part of the world, the IPBES report states nonetheless that : “although a lack of wild pollinator data (species identity, distribution and abundance) for Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania preclude any general statement on their regional status, local declines have been recorded.

The global body then urged that long-term international or national monitoring of both pollinators and pollination is urgently required to provide information on status and trends for most species and most parts of the world.

To the layperson, pollinators are, as reported by Science Alert, the bees, butterflies, flies, moths, wasps, beetles, birds, and bats, among other animals that move from plant to plant, and carry the flower’s pollen, in effect assisting in the reproductive cycle of the plant.

According to the IPBES assessment, globally, nearly 90 per cent of wild flowering plant species depend, at least in part, on the transfer of pollen by animals. These plants are critical for the continued functioning of ecosystems as they provide food, form habitats, and provide other resources for a wide range of other species.

Pollinator-dependent crops contribute to 35 per cent of global crop production volume and given that pollinator-dependent crops rely on animal pollination to varying degrees, it is estimated that 5–8 per cent of current global crop production is directly attributed to animal pollination with an annual market value of $235 billion–$577 billion (in 2015, United States dollars) worldwide.

Examples of these crops include coffee, cacao, mango, and a host of other fruit trees that rely on pollination.

Back in 2012, there was a study done for the Philippines on the economic value of insect pollination and they calculated the Economic Value of Insect Pollination (EVIP) to be $702.8 million (US) for 2009.

The IPBES results will feed into the discussions of other UN bodies, like the Convention on Biological Diversity, which will hold its Conference of the Parties in Cancun, Mexico, this year. The recommendations made by IPBES will pave the way for global action on this problem, which hopefully will not become irreversible, given the gravity of the situation.


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